Our love relationship(s) are one of the main source of growth in our life. Inspired by a video from David Laroche, I would like to share his 6 keys but also share my personal experience with them. One of the thing that struck me when I attended the Choice training (self-development) back in December, is that most people came to fix broken or breaking and unhealthy relationships. Today we will look at some of the keys for our Love relationships and to a wider extend, a lot of other relationships too.
If you read me before, you likely know by now that I recently got married after I came out of a 9 years of being single. Being again in a couple, with someone else interested in self-development, have been the more intense source of growth in my life. I’ve grown a lot on my own, I moved to another country, moved from individual contributor to team leader in my work life. The 9 years of isolation were also to grow on my own, searching how to be happy and working on becoming an independent person. Opening up again and sharing my life with someone else, brought so much to the table! I see many people stuck in unhealthy relationship around me over the years and I hope that whether I know you or not, some of these keys will help you grow so you can grow your relationship too!
Communication is indeed part of these keys and the first one. David’s main point is that, in a couple, communication should be aimed to make ourselves grow, to make our partner grow and our couple/relationship grow. To create that growth, we need a few other things as growth can’t just happen “like that”. To achieve that, we need to have clarified our values, as well as rules but also the vision for our couple.
“Ask yourself if what you say and do is creating the couple you want to have”
It was interesting to listen to and realize that in my wife and I, we went through a few processes to help building our vision, values and rules: a vision board, a mission statement, a yearly review and planning.
For the our first year together (we are still in that first year), we made a vision board (image on the left). It contained the travels we wanted to make in 2016, the type of food we want to eat or an idealistic image of how our bodies would potentially look like at the end of the year. The vision Board was for 2016 and we will work on another one for 2017 in the near future. This helps us know what we want to make out of the months left, help us to plan or know what matter the most to us.
We also made a mission statement. It is 3 pages long, we touched on what our relationship is about, what behaviors we would like to see between each other, about what matter to us and so on. It is something we want to re-visite and make shorter, maybe even just a couple of sentences that would be the essence of what our relationship mean to us and where we want to go with it.
We also reviewed 2016 using the Year Compass: Close 2016. Plan 2017 and we will also plan 2017 for our couple with this same tool. I am not used to do such reviews and it is honestly a bit of a struggle for me but I am happy we did it so far and the more we do, the more comfortable I will be with that. It is a bounding experience to do that together, we learn about the other, what matter most, what are the priorities and so on. It give us quality time together and as well making the outcomes we want out of our couple clearer for both of us.
Communication is also about expressing our needs, emotions, fears and worries. This is crucial! We can’t wait for our partner to magically find out how we feel, what we need and how we want it. Unsaid needs and unsaid expectations can ruin the joy and the lightness of Love.
“Often we speak our own language, not the language of the other”
“Often we love in our own ways, not in the ways of the other”
If we need to express ourselves, we also need to leave space to our partner so they can do the same. Listening to them genuinely and attentively is not really something we can skip to create a quality relationship and the best is yet to come. When both partners are caring, when they both feel accepted, when they both feel respected, listening to one another is easy and a pleasure. It is quality and bounding time, it is being connected to each other, living in the present moment and holding space for the person that is the most important to us very likely.
Take 100% responsibility
One of his point here is that, in a conflict situation, if you only take 50% of the responsibility, the next day, when it is your partner’s turn to take responsibility, they may also only take 50% of it . Or if they took responsibility lately, they may even think it isn’t their turn this time around. Then you can enter in the blaming arena and always have a reason to resent your partner. Doing this overtime can be a killer and if you had a big fights for things that happened in the past, you have right there a very good suspect for it!
One suggestion is to take a step back and understand that our partner is here to challenge us in the right places. They will push our buttons! Why not considering that as an opportunity to grow? If we understand that as such, then the relationship enters another dimension! Understanding that and choosing it, will level up our relationship to the next level, particularly in both partners do that.
All relationship we ever had brought something to us, even something very small. Each relations was a growth opportunity and all the ones we will have will be. If we invest ourselves on such relationships, whether they work or not, we will grow. And this growth will follow us all our life. It may make the next relationship the one we wanted, but before we get that one, we need to grow on the previous ones!
“Being in a relationship is a choice, own that choice.”
Break the illusion of gains and looses
The main point here is that a relationship isn’t there to make you happy. A relationship is here to bring gains and looses. Someone so close to you will push buttons as we’ve just seen, to make us grow! It doesn’t mean relationship can’t bring happiness, but it won’t make you happy on itself. You need a functional and healthy relationship to get happiness from it. A lot of people are actually unhappy in relationships but they still settle for it.
“Living is a couple is embracing pains and pleasures and that’s the magic of a couple. A couple is there to challenge us and support us.”
When our partner is being challenging, upsetting or frustrating, one good question to ask ourselves is “How is that making me grow?” and really search for an honest answer. Asking powerful questions instead of limiting ones is a skill to develop and it happens I just wrote about it last week. You can find the article here: Questions matter! How to ask good questions to YOURSELF?
One of David’s point is very interesting. He says that our partner is unconsciously wired to annoy us to make us grow. Are you with someone that annoys you at time? Good! Everyone else would if you were living with them anyway. It is normal and we should look from a good angle: How do that make us grow?
This isn’t meaning we can accept from our partner, being beaten or abused is not okay and taking 100% responsibility also means for ourself, leaving a toxic and hurtful relationship is our own choice and it is up to us to make it.
“In which ways, he/she is being, helps me to grow where I need to?”
That idea of my partner being here to make me grow, particularly when it is uncomfortable is working very well so far. It is quite new so I believe there are learning to make still but in many situations it make sense. One of the most common situation is feeling shameful. That can happen while shopping just because she speaks a bit loudly for example. When she speaks loudly, it is usually because it was about something that was getting her emotional and that she cared about during her day, so she connects to these emotions again by talking about it. Absolutely nothing wrong with that! It makes me feel very uncomfortable in public, I am afraid people would hear us, I am scared that people will feel we are fighting because of her tone. So instead of being available to my wife when she shares something important, I want to hide and want to find ways to distract her or change the subject. This is definitely an opportunity of growth for me, I am reacting from the past in such situations, where I felt uncomfortable in similar situations as a kid. Learning how to be comfortable here, how to accept it and be available to her would be a lot more valuable than that childish reaction. I could victime and blame her for her behavior that make me uncomfortable, I could just keep going with trying to change the topic and so on, we could go like that for a long time but it will slowly breakdown certain aspects of our relationship.
“It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”
Someone else can’t hurt us unless we let them do it. We have the power to change a hurt into a growth opportunity nearly everyday on our life. It isn’t always easy, but it is still an available choice if we dare to see it and take it. Remember that life is happening for us, not to us. Creating the capacity to see life this way is probably one of the most empowering change we could make!
“It is never your partner who is upsetting you, you are upsetting yourself!”
Loving someone is loving him/her for who he/she really is
This part is particularly important when the excitement of a new relationship start to fade. We start to see defaults in our partners, they aren’t as perfect as we thought they were before. You remember when you felt that your partner was always nice, always attentive to your needs, always caring, texting you constantly and so forth! That won’t last and we all experienced that.
“How can I love my partner for the things I dislike?”
“How can I love my partner for who he/she really is?
We touched on that quite a bit so far, it is about understanding that our partner is perfect, not as a perfect person, but perfect to make us grow and challenge us were we need it. Loving someone only for the good, is not loving unconditionally. We need to love every aspect of a person. Otherwise it isn’t love, it is “I love you if you are like it” or “I love you if you do that”.
“There is nothing better for a couple to realize that both partners are perfect the way they are, perfect to grow and move toward in life together.”
The best way to be happy in a couple, is to be happy without he/she. The more you are happy on your own, the more you can love someone. You need to break the illusion that you need someone else to be happy.
A functional couple is a generous couple
An important thing that is coming in again here, is that we need to love our partners the way they speak love, the way they appreciate being loved. If we love our partners the way we like to be loved, they will mostly likely appreciate it. To touch someone, they need to be loved the way they speak love.
“My Sweetheart, how do you know I love you?
How do you know I love you?”
We should all ask these to our partners! I will say it again but an unsaid expectations isn’t something we want to have in our relationship. We can’t expect our partners to know how we would like to be loved, they may know it partially, they may have an idea what is touching us or not. But until we clearly tell them, they can’t know fully.
I’d like to introduce a little game I did last week with my Wife and it was quite interesting to see the results. It will help with what I just touched on. Knowing how we like to be loved may not be very clear for most of us and this little game will help you figure it out. 🙂
It is called the 5 Love Languages. You will go through 30 questions, for that just click “Learn Your Love Language”, fill in the form and download the PDF. Each question will give you one point for one of these 5 “languages of love”:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Services
- Receiving Gifts
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
My wife results (top 3):
12 – Acts of Services
7 – Receiving Gifts
5 – Physical Touch
My results (top 3):
9 – Quality Time
8 – Physical Touch
5 – Words of Affirmation
So what did we learn? Let’s highlight a few outcomes of such a simple thing!
I always want to lay down in bed or on a coach to hug and just be together. These moments are needed daily for me, it is just some time for us to slow down, be together and it make me feel loved, cared for and it brings happiness. She knew that indeed, but she wouldn’t have bet that it was probably what is the more important to me. For her if we do that for too long it may look like a waste of time, she thinks about all the things she could do in that amount of time. She wants to value these moments a lot more now, because she knows how much they mean to me.
Sometimes I am more lazy with chores at home but they are Acts of Services to her. Me doing less chores is making her feel that I care less about our relationship, that I love her less. It has little to do with the kitchen not being clean, it has all to do about how it make her feel. I knew that indeed too, but not to that extend. Same with gifts, I knew she like gifts, but I didn’t know how much it meant to her when I come back home and I bought a dessert for dinner for example. I don’t care much about gifts myself so I tend not to give gifts to other people in my life. But it is loving them the way I like to be loved, not the way they like to be loved. Moving forward, I will make conscious efforts to do both of these on a more regular basis.
It is indeed some extra efforts, but it is totally worth it. If our partners don’t feel loved, what do we have to deal with? If we don’t feel loved, what do we make our partners endure?
Have a common project
It could be anything really, a travel, a company, a foundation, how to raise your child or you name it! As soon there is such a direction, this is where the energy flows!
“This is for me what is creating the magic in a couple”
What we looked at today
- A communication that is constructive and benevolent with the intent to make you, the other and the relationship grow
- I take responsibility! I am responsible for my emotions, I am responsible for what is happening, I am responsible for what will happen in the couple and to stop the relationship if it isn’t working
- The relationship is here to make me grow, we are moving forward together and it is a spiritual journey
- Love your partner fully, for who he/she is and who he/she isn’t
- Be generous! Speak the language of love of your partner to touch them
- Define your couple through a common project
“Remember, everything around you is here to make you grow”
To go further…
David Laroche is a French self-develoment coach, the video is indeed in French and David got limited content available in English for now. If you understand French, the video is called Avoir un couple de ouf (6 clés). The video is nearly 13 minutes, but extremely dense in content. I would suggest to watch it multiple times to get a clearer pictures of everything he is bringing.
As usual, I added my personal experiences around these topics to show how it can look like in real life. It is easy to listen to a video and be inspired but if nothing change in our relationships, it wasn’t that useful after all. I am considering myself lucky to have a healthy and functional relationship, if you knew my partner and I before we met, you may not have bet on us but so far we built it this way and we work hard to make it even more functional and healthier. Looking at people around me, people I crossed in my life, so many of them are or were stuck in non-functional relationship and I hope that this blog and the content creators I’m sharing with you all will help you as we all deserve love, acceptance, care and happiness!